A case study on working with community partners
The Midcounties Co-operative Board took the decision in August 2019 to merge its Coop Energy business with Octopus Energy, an organisation with shared values that puts their customers, colleagues and environment at the heart of their operation. This decision brings sustainability to customers through exceptional technology customer service and innovation.
A regrettable but unavoidable by-product of the merger was the redundancy of job roles at Walsall, Warwick and Ipswich Coop Energy Sites. From the outset the leadership team had been keen to support colleagues faced with redundancy.
As part of a wider set of actions which included job fairs, cv workshops and interview skills, Rebekah Brain, Society Engagement Manager reached out to Mind for further support.
Structure of Support
Over a period of 8 weeks a Wellbeing Practitioner from Springfield Mind visited Coop Energy offices. Colleagues were offered a confidential one to one meeting with Mind where they could discuss any challenges they were facing, be listened to non-judgementally, be given support, information and signposting.
Some of the meetings were single appointments, others visited on repeat occasions.
To be listened to, non-judgementally – employees were able to open up about their feelings in a way that would be frustrated by the normal employee / employer relationship. The space created allowed people to air their raw emotions safely, in itself a very cathartic experience for most allowing them to reflect in a more balanced and constructive way about their situation.
Be given support and information – where appropriate colleagues would explore models relating to stress, anxiety, depression as appropriate. Printed Mind Booklets, emailed worksheets and an overview of how to build resilience.
Signposting – in some cases further support was recommended in the form of accessing mental health services, talking therapies, employment support for individuals with a diagnosed mental illness, carers support and family support.
Feedback via Line Managers and HR Advisors were positive, indicating that individuals had found the support valuable and reflected well on Midcounties and Mind.
“Thanks Paul both I and the team felt real benefit from your sessions. Keep up the incredible work – it makes a massive difference and you should be incredibly proud.” Senior Manager
“My Wife and I would like to thank you so much; I now have a job and do not think I would without your help.” Colleague - Walsall
“Our conversations have been much more helpful than support I received through IAPT. Thank you.” Colleague - Walsall
“I would not have been this open with anyone else, just talking feels great.” Colleague - Warwick
“You have put my mind at rest that I am coping with this!” Colleague - Warwick
“A lot going on, thanks for the peace.” Colleague – Ipswich
“Thank for listening yesterday, it was really helpful” Colleague – Walsall
“Thank you for your support yesterday, it really is appreciated.”
Individuals who have previously struggled with their mental health sought reassurance and support that they could cope with this change. These individuals were far more protective of their wellbeing and had some coping strategies to support.
Younger colleagues who had no previous experience with poor wellbeing or in managing stressful life events were the ones struggling the most. A lack of life experience, not having faced such emotions or change before and not being able to share their concerns with others made them more vulnerable and the transition more challenging.
Colleagues often had external risks to their wellbeing which combined with this change process overwhelmed them.
The culture within Midcounties Cooperative, placing colleagues at the heart of the organisation results in a strong attachment to the business and its values. Of course in the case of redundancy it makes change more akin to bereavement in nature, the loss of a family.
Having developed a cohesive and successful partnership with Mind and Springfield Mind, Midcounties was able to quickly consult with and deploy Mind to effectively support colleagues facing change.
- Effective wellbeing interventions for colleagues.
- Financial support for Springfield Mind and its work with individuals in the community.
- Great community partnership working.
- Midcounties Cooperative demonstrating its commitment to colleague values.